Let. It. Go. Book Tour + Giveaway!

The following is a guest post from Karen Ehman, author of LET. IT. GO.

Do you find it hard to follow God? I do. My self-reliant personality would much rather do things myself; make my own plans; forge my own path. And being a mom, where many decisions have to be made and actions taken, only worsens the problem. After all, “mother knows best” right?

Not always. But God does.

It has been a long hard road for me to learn that God knows best and that sometimes other people’s ways are smarter than mine.

Which includes my husband. YIKES!

You see I am also a card-carrying member of “control freaks anonymous”. I want to control all of the decisions in my home and marriage too.

Can you relate?

What has helped me is to study the lives of biblical characters who went their own way; who didn’t consult their Father. The results were disastrous, at best. Sometimes downright deadly.

So I read about the lives of Sarah and Abraham, who lied to try to change circumstances. Or Joshua, who was tricked by an entire Gibeonite army, who seemed like they were from afar with their moldy bread and old wineskins, but who were actually from nearby and dangerous. No one bothered to inquire of the Lord whether or not to believe them. The result was not pretty.

There are others–Ananias and Sapphira. They met an awful fate for going their own way. Or even those biblical characters who did hear from God and knew what they should do, but refused to do it. Ahem…Jonah? Anyone up for riding around in the belly of a whale for a three day trip?

I pray that all of us learn to pause. In the small things and the monumental. To consult God before answering a child or responding to our husbands. And to seek Him out before making a major decision.

As a result, we will spend much less time wandering and more time walking in step with our Creator.

How about you? How do you practically follow God in your daily life?

Giveaway

Karen has generously offered two Kingdom First Mom readers a copy of her book!

Enter to win 1 of 2 copies of Let. It. Go. (email subscribers need to click through to the post to enter)

To enter, simply leave a comment. That’s it! The giveaway will end on Thursday, 12/6 at 5 pm, CST.

About Let.It.Go.:

Women are wired to control. We make sure the house is clean, the meals are prepared, the beds are made, the children are dressed, and everyone gets to where they’re going on time. But sometimes our strength of being conscientious can morph into the weakness of being a slight—or all out—control freak! This humorous, yet spiritually practical book will help you learn how to control what you should, trust God with what you can’t, and more importantly, decide which one is which! Join Karen Ehman, a recovering control freak, as she enables you to:

  • Draw the line between mothering and micromanaging
  • Influence your husband instead of manipulating him
  • Take control of your schedule yet welcome interruptions from God
  • Learn to control your emotions when you can’t control the circumstances
  • Stop pursuing the appearance of perfection and start pursuing the person of God

LET IT GO Blog Tour

Purchase the book:

Let. It. Go. via Proverbs31.org

Let. It. Go. via Amazon.com

About Author:

Karen Ehman is the Director of Speakers for Proverbs 31 Ministries’ national speaking team. A five-time author, her books include A Life That Says Welcome, The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized and the popular ebook Untangling Christmas: Your Go-to Guide for a Hassle-free Holiday. She is a favorite presenter at Hearts at Home moms’ conferences and a sought-after speaker for women’s events. She has been a guest on national television and radio programs, including The 700 Club, Engaging Women, The Harvest Show, Moody Midday Connection and Focus on the Family. Karen also is a contributor to Focus on the family’s magazine Thriving Family. She lives with her family in central Michigan.

I received a copy of Let. It. Go. for the purpose of review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine!

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Surviving Fall Festivals: Saving Your Wallet, Your Sanity, and Your Immune System

The following is a guest post from my dear friend, Rachel.

Wow! I can’t believe it’s already fall again! After this crazy heat and the drought conditions here in Texas this past summer, I can say wholeheartedly that I am MORE than ready for fall!

I love watching the leaves turn, going on hayrides, being outside, and being able to go to the park with the kids without sweat pouring down! :) All around it’s just a wonderful time of year!

Another one of my favorite things to do in the fall is go to Fall Festivals! We don’t celebrate Halloween and do the Trick or Treating thing, but we LOVE Fall Festivals! And go to about as many as we can fit into our schedule!

So I thought it would be fun to share a few ways that you can survive the fall festivals without breaking your wallet, your sanity, or your immune system! :)

Do Your Research

You will likely want to go to the fall festival of your local church if they are sponsoring one, but what about beyond that? If you live in a large city, there are a plethora of options to choose from, and a limited amount of time, so how do you pick the best ones?

Think Big

The larger churches in the area are usually (but not always) the best places to go for the best activites. You’ll want to call around to different churches ahead of time and ask lots of questions like… “Will you have rides and activities for the older kids?” “Do you have a policy against scary costumes” and…

“Is There A Fee?”

Now, I do not think this is the norm, but we have shown up at fall festivals before and been asked to pay $5 per person to get in! I sure wish I would’ve called ahead of time to check. Not that I’m against paying something for an awesome carnival-like fall festival setup, but I want to know in advance so that we can budget for it.

Plan To Get There Early

Or at least right when the doors open. Scope out the scene and head to the rides that will likely end up with a very long line. For example, our kids LOVE the high-jump trampoline (is there an official name for this?) where you get strapped in and have 5 whole minutes to jump as high as you possibly can! The problem with that 5 minutes of jumping, though, is that, well, each kid jumps for five minutes… which equals an extremely long line for most of the night. Getting there right as the doors open means that your kids can be first in line so that they can enjoy the other games too!

Buying Costumes

Probably by far the most expensive part of these fall festivals is buying the costumes. Especially as your family grows (we are up to 4 now), the costs just seem to skyrocket! Here are a few ways to keep your pocketbook happy when planning for costumes.

Pinterest

Pinterest is my new addiction. I could (and do!) look through different photos and ideas for hours at a time! I have seen a bunch of super cute & CHEAP kids costumes comes through my Pinterest stream that you can make yourself! One idea that looked super cute is a homemade jet pack using just a couple of coke bottles, spray paint, and some tissue paper! What little boy wouldn’t love his very own jet pack?!? What fun DIY costume ideas have you seen on Pinterest?

Swapping

You can do this through an official costume swapping organization, or just get together with your local moms group and organize a costume swap yourselves! Goodness, I must have about 10 costumes in random places around the house, and I’m sure other moms are the same. And the kids only wear it for ONE DAY!! Why in the world should we be buying a new one each year?

Get Clearance for Next Year

Even if you can’t get a great deal this year, you can always plan ahead for next year! The costumes that were $49.99 on October 30th, will be on sale for $6 the first week in November.

I Want Candy (or not!)

This is the part of everything that makes me want to hit my head up against the wall. Seriously, I really think that this fall sugar rush at the end of October is one of the factors that makes us more susceptible to diseases like the flu during the winter (in addition to a lack of Vitamin D). So what can we do with all of this candy that’s thrown at us every year? Here are a few options:

Just throw it away

Yes, I said it. And yes, I could’ve said “donate it.” Why didn’t I? Because if something is going to hurt US, why would we donate it to hurt someone else? We went to the fall festival to have fun, NOT to load up on candy, and our goal was accomplished! And sure, I would let the kids pick a couple of their favorites to keep (and I might grab the bag of M&Ms and a couple of Heath Bars too), but the rest would just go in the trash.

Candy Trading

Now this DOES cost a little bit of money. But the money paid now might be MUCH less than the money spent at the dentist later. We’ve done this with our kids before and it’s worked out really well! You have the kids count up all of their candy pieces and you exchange a certain number of candy pieces for a toy in the dollar section of Target, or at the dollar store. For example, 50 pieces = 1 toy. The kids still get to have the fun of trying to get as much candy as possible, but for the purpose of trading instead of eating! Then proceed with the first suggestion.

Make Candy Ornaments

Oh yes! You can actually turn all of the bad-for-you candy into something useful! Well, maybe not USEFUL, but at least something that won’t hurt you. :) Just preheat your oven to 350 degrees, put parchment paper, or aluminum foil down onto a cookie sheet and place your favorite cookie cutter in the middle. SPRAY the sheet and the cookie cutter WELL with non-stick cooking spray. Then put your hard candy (like lollipops, life savers, etc… hmm, I wonder if those nasty wax lips would work too?) into the middle and put the cookie sheet in the oven for about 8 minutes or so. Take it out of the oven and let it sit for a minute or two and then use a straw or another circular object to put a hole where you want the string to go. Let it continue to cool and then when it’s “touchable”, pull the candy away from the cookie cutter. Put the string through the hole and voila! You have your own homemade candy ornament!

So what are your favorite ways to save money (and your sanity) during this time of year? Anything you would add?

Photo credit, top: Gadget_Guru on Flickr
Photo credit, second: A Taste of Kentucky

Rachel Holland is a homeschool mom of 4 awesome kids, and wife to one incredible husband. While she’s not cleaning up messes, changing diapers, or teaching Latin (ha!), she, along with her husband Ryan, run the money-saving website, Surviving The Stores.

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Quick and Easy Bread Dough

The following is a guest post from my real-life friend and blogger, Rachel of Quirky Momma.

We’re a family of bread snobs.  We love whole grain bread.  As a mom of four, I also love convenience and hate paying $2.50 or more for a loaf of quality bread.  So, here’s the secret: I can eat whole wheat bread fresh out of the oven with 30 min notice for 25 cents a loaf. Yummy and frugal!

I discovered no-knead, slow-rise bread that you can prep in advance to save you time and of course, money.  Even preschoolers can learn to help! You’ll need a big food-safe container with a lid.  I use a 5-gallon Rubbermaid tub.  You want the lid to contain the growing dough, but not explode.  To help the dough “breathe” I poke a tiny hole into the lid.

What do you need to create the easiest bread dough?

Ingredients

9 cups of flour – If you use whole wheat use at least 1 cup of white or add gluten.  I have used oat, rye, flax seed, whole wheat, Bulgar and even dried potato as my “flour”.
1 Tablespoon of sugar – I use brown sugar or sugar in the raw as they have the best flavor
1 1/2 teaspoon of yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon of salt – I use coarse sea salt as it dissolves slower, allowing the yeast to do its stuff.
4 1/2 cups of room temperature water
5 Quart Tub

1. Mix all of the dry ingredients together, then add the water.  Mix until all the ingredients are wet.

2. Put the lid on it and let it sit on a counter for several hours.

*Note: If your house is warm (like our house in the summer) you may only want it to sit for an hour or two.  As it is winter our dough tub sits above our fridge for most of the morning.  Stick the tub in the fridge after it starts to bubble.  The dough needs to sit for roughly 18-24 hours before you can start using it.  It should have doubled in size and it keeps in the fridge for more than a week.

3. To cook with the dough, just scoop out what you need and form it into loaves, rolls, etc.  We’ve even used the dough as our base to create bagels and soft pretzels.

4. Let the bread sit for a few min before sticking it into the oven.  The yeast needs to be reactivated.  Then bake as normal.

Typical baking instructions/times are as follows:

Dinner or Sandwich Rolls :: Fold dough over itself a few times, so the bread expands up rather than out.  Dust with flour so the lump isn’t sticky.  Bake 20-25 min. at 350 degrees.
French Bread :: Loosely fold dough into a log shape.  Sprinkle with water.  Stick in oven at 375 degrees for 20-30 min.
Pizza Crust :: Sprinkle dough with corn meal.  Roll flat.  Bake for 5-15 min, depending on how crunchy you like your crusts, at 400 degrees.  Add toppings and re-bake.
Bagels :: Form into “O”s.  Drop dough into boiling water for a min or so.  Drop on baking sheet and bake for 20 min at 350 degrees.

If you have a little bit of dough left in the container, feel free to use it as your “starter” and add the new ingredients to the container.  The longer you keep it “alive” the more flavor your bread will have.

As you can see, fresh baked bread does not have to be complicated. Just a little prep time in advance will have you on your way!

About Rachel Miller
Rachel is mommy to three rambunctious preschoolers and a bubbly infant. Their lives are anything but boring!  Her website, Quirky Momma, is the brain-child or diary of all their crazy and silly activities, learning adventures, and helpful tips for parenting and/or maintaining your sanity and survival. You can connect with her on Facebook.

 

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Ornaments 4 Orphans: Buy An Ornament. Bless A Child.

All month long, I am sharing giving ideas and causes as part of The 30-Day Giving Challenge. The following is a guest post from Meagan of Frugal Fun and Fortune.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” – James 1:27

Fact: Over 12 million children in sub-Saharan Africa are orphaned due to AIDS.
Fact: Over 50 million Americans set up Christmas trees in their homes each year.

Let’s just face it – Christmas has gotten turned upside down. A beautiful holiday that is supposed to be centered around worship, giving, love, joy, and peace…has turned into a holiday about shopping, checking gifts off a list, stress, commercialism, over-spending, going into debt, you get the picture.

What are we truly celebrating at Christmas? The birth of Jesus. The arrival of the ultimate love, peace, and joy. The One who gave it all, the One we adore, the One who deserves all of our affections and attention, the One we worship.

When it is somebody’s birthday, we usually celebrate by giving a gift to that person. So how will we celebrate the birthday of Jesus this year? What will we give to Him? How do we give to God? When I dive into the scriptures, I see a loving God who cares about people, demands social justice, identifies with the poor, and loves the children and orphans.

I see a God who whispers…

“loose the chains of injustice”
“sell everything you have and give to the poor”
“I was hungry and you gave me something to eat”
“I needed clothes and you clothed me”
“I was sick and you looked after me”

It’s safe to say that if we want to give a heartfelt gift to God this season in celebration of His Son’s birthday, we should start with the poor, lonely, orphaned, and sick…

That’s what Ornaments 4 Orphans is all about. You know those 2 big numbers in the facts presented at the beginning of this post? Ornaments 4 Orphans exists to help those numbers meet. That’s right – 50 million Christmas trees can somehow help the 12 million children in Africa orphaned by AIDS. And it starts with YOU. ME. US. EVERYBODY.

When you buy an ornament from Ornaments 4 Orphans, your money goes directly towards enriching the lives of beautiful Ugandan children. Each ornament is fair trade and hand-crafted in East Africa. There are many different varieties to choose from: stars, crosses, baskets, bells, etc. They even have unique nativity sets. All of the ornaments are $10 each. A small price for a beautiful ornament that can make a BIG difference. Buy one for your tree. Buy one as a gift for somebody else’s tree. Just know that when you buy an ornament, you’re giving a gift of true and lasting meaning this season.

If you’re interested in making an even bigger impact, you can sponsor an O4O tree in your church, school, home, or office. For more information, e-mail ornaments(at)pearlministries(dot)org.

My dear friend Jamie, U.S. director of Ornaments 4 Orphans, has offered to give away FIVE O4O ornaments!

Five lucky winners will receive a “lidded basket” ornament, woven out of natural grasses. The little lids even open to hide special things in your tree. How fun!

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post. Share your heart, comment on this great organization, or go check out some of the ornaments and tell us which is your favorite.

The giveaway will end on Tuesday, November 30th, at 9pm CST. The winners will be selected at random and notified via email.

Meagan is the author of the blog Frugal Fun & Fortune, where she writes about saving money, giving to others, delicious Vegetarian recipes, simple living, and her life adventures. Her greatest passions include chasing after God wholeheartedly, social justice, being a good wife to her sweet hub, books, and music. Visit her blog to have FUN while saving money!

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